'True Blood' season premiere is too stuffed with storylines

'True Blood' has good character moments in its season 5 premiere, but too much is going on.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
'True Blood' has the characters portrayed by stars Anna Paquin (center, with series creator Alan Ball) and Stephen Moyer (r.) caught up in too many plotlines.

An often action-packed thrill ride through the repercussions of the previous season, the True Blood season 5 premiere presents a thoroughly entertaining, though flawed, first installment for the series’ new year.

Picking up where the chaotic True Blood season 4 finale left, much of the premiere follows Sookie (Anna Paquin) and friends through the aftermath of their murderous escapades. Certainly a necessity given the numerous cliffhangers and unfinished stories that were left from last season, a noticeable divide presents itself in the premiere, where tying up loose ends with some characters is juxtaposed with new, compelling stories for others.

As Sookie and Lafayette “take care” of Tara and Debbie, Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) “take care” of  Nan Flanagan and the Vampire Authority, and Sam (Sam Trammell) and Alcide (Joe Manganiello) “take care” of Marcus and the pack, while Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is kicking things off with Steve Newlin (Michael McMillian) and Jessica is trying to “find” herself. Oh, and Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) is back.

While separate and concurrent storylines aren’t inherently a poor trait, True Blood once began as a single story with many parts. Now many stories with their own individual elements muddle the narrative – each scene represents its own story with its own characters (which rarely overlap).

Aside from this trait making True Blood a truly active viewing experience (if you want to keep up with what’s going on), the lack of fluidity amongst the series’ many storylines makes it difficult to get an overall sense of what’s actually occurring in Bon Temps.

That being said, for those able to completely grasp hold of True Blood’s transition from its initial narrative to its current structuring, the season 5 premiere is a mixed bag of thoroughly enjoyable scenes and intriguing character moments.

With many of the best character moments coming from the likes of Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Terry (Todd Lowe), many of the other storylines present a more heightened emotional front, which can often become goofy or silly – while still remaining enjoyable.

Though teases of Russel Edgington and other impending challenges were interspersed throughout the premiere, there isn’t really a clear sense of where True Blood is heading as the season progresses. Having screened episodes beyond the premiere, it’s fair to say that some will be surprised to see what occurs by episode four. Of course, by now, this should be no surprise for fans of True Blood.

Having experienced previous seasons of Gods and witches, fans of the series should be up to speed with how the series reacts to outside entities trying to enter the story. Fortunately, True Blood season 5 appears to be trying to tell inclusive tales using many of the series’ familiar faces. While several new characters are added throughout, their inclusion feels more natural and overall advances the characters’ story nicely.

By turning Terra (Rutina Wesley) into a vampire, it certainly provides the series with a way to keep her around. More importantly, it allows the writers to tap into another side of the character. Giving the powers of a vampire to a woman who has largely been abused by the world, it’ll be interesting to see how she takes to her new affinity for the night time.

Finally touching upon Terry Bellefleur’s military past, the return of former platoon leader Patrick Devins (Scott Foley) presents an intriguing storyline for the typically quiet character. Though Devins’ introduction was masked by a confusing introduction that didn’t even make sense to Terry (let alone the audience), the overall intent of Devins wasn’t made as clear as it probably should have been.

Trying to incorporate so many individual storylines into a 60-minute television series is extremely difficult – something True Blood hopefully learned from last season. So while the True Blood season 5 premiere is an enjoyable collection of new and concluding story-arcs that, for those willing to give way to its quickened pace of storytelling, represents that beginning of what very well could be a completely entertaining season, that sentiment could unfortunately change at any moment.

Until the true intent of True Blood season 5 is revealed, the safest bet is to take it one episode at a time, because who knows when the next 10-minutes epic fairy war will break out.

Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.

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